Have you studied your family roots? We all have a history we are either proud of or want to shove back in the closet. In today’s episode, I’ll share how we can use our heritage to our advantage and bring healing out of situations that truthfully should make us cry!
In my book, One More Child I write what I believe to be a truth – “We don’t get to choose our parents, something my kids probably lament in private!” They did get a kick out of that line – when our kids are little they adore us and write us “I love you, mommy,” notes. When they get older we can be embarrassing or you hear the line, “Moooommmm” at the end of anything I ask.
My parents are now both deceased, and my life was not your average American kid story. While I was born into an Italian immigrant family in New York City, I had no idea I was different until I entered school.
Has that happened to any of you? Your background, morals, truths that were taught by your parents just were, because they said? Then you wake up to find out, wow, things are different out there.
I go into more details about my upbringing in my book, yet in this podcast, I want to focus on our roots.
What are your roots? Have you looked back, and I’m not talking about a DNA test or a family tree history. While those may be interesting it tells you the ancestry parts of your story but not the full picture. Your family tree doesn’t tell you what is important to you. It doesn’t tell you how your upbringing, your family, your parents or lack of good parental influence colors your life decisions. It doesn’t explain the hurt you feel.
Our roots have a way of explaining a lot. I want to challenge you to look back on your upbringing like I did, but not with sad eyes but with eyes that see the good. We didn’t have money growing up but I didn’t know it. We didn’t live in the best neighborhoods or eat the right food. We didn’t even have friends (or very few) outside of our family circle. My best friends were my two cousins, both guys, Sal and Joe. We grew up in the same apartment complex. When we played, we played together.
In fact, my mother was divorced, something that is forbidden in an Italian Catholic family. It wasn’t her choice. My father left. But it left a big hole in her life and you can imagine it had a rippling effect not only on me but our extended family.
Do loving people, who love the Lord get abandoned. Yes. Sometimes through no fault of their own. These things remain a mystery in families that won’t talk about the issues that bother them, they are swept under the carpet.
But if you ask me to describe my family to you and my upbringing I would say it was loving, loud, and after God family was the most important thing and it was happy. Can you do that? Look back upon your family with rose-colored glasses and see the good?
It is a matter of our survival to focus on the good, the happiness, the joy. Even if it is a relative, a neighbor, a teacher who brought you that joy. In curriculum series, I published I had a co-author, Jill. I loved Jill. She was a boisterous evangelical Christian and I was a cradle Catholic and we agreed to disagree on several faith-related discussions but not on the things that mattered the most of which we agreed, our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. She had a horrible relationship with her father, and when she found God she said she could not equate a loving God as a “Father” because her idea of the word Father was skewed. Yet, when she realized they were two separate entities and forgave her earthly father, she was able to move on and embrace the love and joy from her spiritual father.
That is true joy friend. When we can leave those icky things in our past behind and move forward. Maybe you are not at a place where you can do this – but you can. I have faith that you can. Maybe not this second but soon.
Here are some practical steps to get you started.
This is a ton of work to get you started and believe me it doesn’t happen overnight. It took me many years to grow in faith and that was a process and afterward, it took me another five years to write my book.
Why do we delay in letting things go, in allowing God to work in our lives? If you have the answer, please let me know! We all make mistakes and in the next episode, we will discuss survival – the way we regroup and survive difficult things.
Maybe you can’t do any of the five things I’ve listed. Fine. Make up your own list. If you are struggling and hurting there is only one way out and that is to look for the root cause.
A quick side note here. Taking responsibility. In my case, my distress was because of a decision I made, not lightly but along with my husband. I had to take responsibility and own it to move on.
Bad things happen to good people. And…
Good people do not need to let those bad things define them.
We are responsible for ourselves for our decisions and for our own feelings. If we allow ourselves to stay in a self-pity party for very long it begins to define us – we look at other people and see their lives as perfect. We begin to compare ourselves to others and guess what? We think we fall short – everyone else’s life is so much better than ours, right?
There is no perfect life. Believe me, I know. Just think of any friends you’ve gotten to know whose life you thought were perfect. I usually walk away happy that is not my life and thanking God that He has given me what I can handle with His help!
Can you do it? Can you look at your roots, your past and not allow it to define who you are?
Yes, I’m Italian. Yes, I grew up in a faith-filled Catholic family but we were more cafeteria Catholic that true Catholic – selecting and choosing what we wanted to follow. Yes, I watched as my family practice the fine art of guilt – making others feel guilty when they didn’t want to visit or eat the food prepared. It was subtle but oh so effective technique – and the drama! There was always drama.
I let these roots define me for way too long! Take the good, get rid of the bad. Learn from past mistakes. I’m not into guilt or drama. But it was a process. When my parents retired in a community thirty minutes away, I would feel guilty if I was within ten miles of my parent’s home and didn’t go to visit. Even after my mother died I began to fill guilt that I hadn’t visited enough. Why didn’t I go see her more? My husband reminded me of all the times we visited all the meals, of all the family celebrations. My parents actually baked homemade pizza for lunch and brought it fresh and hot to my house for the kids. Retirement was an extension of the Italian Restaurant they owned in Winter Haven, Florida. They just changed the menu and fed the neighbors and family that lived nearby.
When my cousin wanted to take his wife on a getaway (the same cousin whose mother, my aunt lived in their home and his wife made welcoming) and he wanted to visit my area in Florida I told him that while I’d love to see him – this was a surprise for his wife who lived near family and it was okay—he didn’t need to come to visit. Needless to say, he was delighted and shocked.
In the past, there would have been all types of drama told about being so close and not coming over for dinner. Every. Night.
Growing up anyone who walked into our house was greeted with the same words. Hello. Welcome. And, you look hungry. How do you look hungry?!
Friends, let it go. If you come to my house I’ll say, “Hello, welcome,” and then proceed to forget to offer you even a glass of water. The glasses are in the drawer near the water cooler help yourself!
Please connect with me on social media, I want to meet you, and for us to get to know each other. The information and details are on the podcast page at One More Child Podcast.com – or if you are not on social media please share your comments and questions with me at Felice@MediaAngels.com.
I pray God’s blessings upon you and your family. Until next we meet